Thousands of households in East Bohemia without heat and hot water

Opatovice, photo: CTK

More than 150,000 inhabitants in the east Bohemian towns of Hradec Kralove, Pardubice and Chrudim have had no heating and hot water for the third day running. The same goes for schools, offices, restaurants and shops. The reason is an accident at the Opatovice electricity plant that heats the towns - its roof collapsed on Saturday and damaged all six boilers placed inside. Alena Skodova reports:

Opatovice,  photo: CTK
So far, no one knows why the plant's roof collapsed, and its director says the investigation will last several weeks. The three towns are now being heated from two smaller plants in Pardubice, but as soon as the first snow comes and temperatures drop, they will no longer be sufficient. Even now, apartments locally are only being heated to a chilly 17 degrees Celsius.

On Monday the situation deteriorated, because after the weekend schools and offices turned their heating systems back on. But the regional hygiene officer says he did not consider closing down all schools, but that he would assess each case individually.

I spoke with the director of the Hradec Kralove hospital, Leos Hoeger:

"On Saturday afternoon we decided to clear the two 'satellite' departments, where - out of the total number of 1,500 beds in the hospital - there were some 250. We had to move 10 patients from the intensive care unit to the main building, and on Sunday we moved another 50 patients there. In the main building we have a substitute boiler room, which can more or less cover the hospital's temperature requirements. Most of the patients who were in better health have been released to home care. In the satellite buildings only two surgeries for out patients remained open while the intensive care unit which has been moved to the main building is prepared to accept only emergency cases."

Opatovice electricity plant,  photo: CTK
Dr. Hoeger told me that it's not so cold yet, so the situation will only get really serious if the weather worsens. He added that the Opatovice plant has given assurances that at least one boiler will renew operation towards the end of this week.

Monday's edition of the paper Mlada Fronta Dnes warns that other Czech cities could find themselves facing the same danger as Hradec Kralove: it writes that Ostrava in North Moravia and Usti nad Labem in North Bohemia are also dependent on a single heating plant for the whole town.